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Which upgrade? Core i7 vs. GTX 280/285

Last response: in Systems
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Which upgrade?

Total: 13 votes (3 blank votes)

  • GTX 280/285
  • 30 %
  • Core i7 plus mobo & ram
  • 20 %
  • Wait for next-gen hardware
  • 50 %
January 20, 2009 1:16:37 PM

I'm looking to upgrade my computer, my current configuration is:

Intel Q6600 OC'd @ 3.0 GHz
4GB DDR2 800
2x 8800GT (512 MB) in SLI
XFX nVidia 780i SLI mobo

I'm looking to either replace the 8800 GT's with a GTX 280 or 285 (keeping 1 8800GT for PhysX) which will cost ~$300 or, alternatively, upgrade to a Core i7 920, which would also mean buying a new mobo plus 3GB of DDR3 ram which will probably cost ~$600. Eventually, I'll HAVE to upgrade to a Core i7 to keep my system up to date, but what I'm wondering is what will give me the largest performance increase at this point, or even if I should just wait for the next generation. Please don't suggest ATi or AMD because this configuration is best for my uses but comments are welcome.
January 20, 2009 1:28:27 PM

Can the 8800 GTs not do something, or are you itching to upgrade?
January 20, 2009 2:01:10 PM

Haha, I suppose I am a bit eager but that's why I added the third option in the poll, if you think an upgrade just isn't worth it right now, let me know.
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January 20, 2009 2:15:54 PM

Are you playing games most of the time, and the 8800GT SLI is not enough for your favorite games? If yes, upgrade to GTX 280.

Are you playing FSX or GTA4 a lot, or doing some kind of work that would benefit from a faster quad CPU? Then the i7 upgrade makes sense. Still, you can get similar results for less by buying a Q9650 for $350 and overclocking it to 4GHz. Buy a Xigmatek HDT-S1283 if your current cooler is the stock one that came with the Q6600.
January 20, 2009 3:39:04 PM

3.0 Q6600 shouldnt bottleneck a gtx 295, id get that if thats an option.
January 20, 2009 4:13:33 PM

Well, I'm currently using a Zalman cooler but it's not working as well as I think it should so I may upgrade that, but that's off subject. Also, I'm not interested in upgrading to another LGA775 processor due to the new socket change to LGA1366. As for games, my most played are Crysis, Far Cry 2, World in Conflict, Mass Effect, and the Half-Life 2 series. Also, I'm wary of the dual-GPU cards because they tend to have more driver issues, as well as issues with game that don't support SLI (I added another 8800GT because it was the best bang for the buck vs. upgrading at the time). In response to shiftstealth's comment, do you guys think my 8800GT's are bottle-necking my Q6600 or vice versa?
January 20, 2009 4:34:26 PM

a q6600 shouldn't be bottlenecking two 8800 gt's. I would say that a q6600 would bottleneck the new gtx 295. Not sure if i agree with shiftstealth that it would not. I just read the benchmarks and reviews and take my opipions from that. (I have i7 with gtx 295 and the gtx 295 pushes the i7 at stock.)

One question I have is what monitor are you using to game on?

If its 16x10 or below then i'd say stick with your 8800's and upgrade the motherboard/cpu/ram. If its at 19x12 then what type of preformance are you expecting from your graphic card?

Your sort of on the bubble to do an upgrade or not I'd say.
January 20, 2009 5:00:40 PM

Well when I say bottleneck i don't mean nessaraly a huge slowdown, but it's the part that would be stopping the increase in fps. I read the review and the i7 isn't on their unfortinally, the highest was a 9650 which was 32 fps better than the q6600 (i7 of course is better than 9650). I'm not sure if that game was nessaraly the best benchmark game since its fps is running in the 200's but none the less its about a 9% increase in preformance. In that test bench the increase having an i7 probally wouldn't be much higher because any processor that is above the e8400 is above it being the bottleneck. That is why you see very little difference in the fps at those level processors. Games that are more graphic card intensive you'd see a better bench mark I think.
January 20, 2009 5:20:34 PM

True. In that review the monitor will limit all the best CPUs to 60 fps, making them equal. Not a very good review :( 

@bikeracer4487
Speaking of monitors, how about a new monitor? If you don't have a 24" yet consider getting one.

January 20, 2009 8:06:47 PM

Yeah, I have a 22" running at 1680x1050 so I won't be upgrading the monitor for a while. Anyways, my biggest problem right now is that I'd like to be running more AA, and the 8800 GTs seem to have a hard time with AA on the more demanding games. I have no doubt an i7 would be well ahead of anything the 8800s could throw at it, my worry is if a GTX 280/285 would be bottlenecked by a Q6600.
January 20, 2009 8:23:06 PM

Look here:
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3334&p=11

GTX 280/QX9770@3.2Ghz got 40.7 fps in Crysis at 1600x1200.
QX9770@3.2Ghz is about the same as Q6600@3.4GHz or 3.5GHz.

I'm pretty sure all your other games would have better fps with the same hardware.
January 26, 2009 8:48:07 AM

I think your configuration is quite decent right now. I would wait for some ardware or at least maybe wait untill the prices go down a little.
!